Coping With an Early Retirement Obsession

I think anyone planning early retirement has been in the obsession stage.  It’s the point where you think of your cost of living numbers at work, you read just about every book from you local library on early retirement and your spouse starts giving you that look like you might be crazy as you play with your spreadsheet for the three time that night.

Don’t fear it’s merely a stage you go through at the start of your early retirement planning.  So how do you cope with an early retirement obsession?

  1. First off you have to admit you are obsessed.  Really it’s ok to be this way for a while.  I think everyone gets a jolt of pure happiness when they realize ‘you mean I don’t HAVE to work till I’m 65’ or ‘I can be financial independent and tell my boss to shove it any time I feel like it’.  It’s sort of addicting at the start.
  2. Start to look past the numbers quickly.  Money is only a tiny part of the whole plan.  If you focus just on the money your obsession is likely to turn unhealthy very quickly.  Just come up with a rough game plan and know you will come back and adjust it later on (usually adjusting things several times).
  3.  Move on to make your life happier right now.  Don’t plan for stuff you are going to do when you leave work, that’s for later.  Right now go through your life and start adjusting.  If it is overly complex, start simplifying.  If you dislike your job, start looking for another one.  Use the obsession to motivate some positive changes to your life.  Often a general unhappiness is one of the first motivators for looking at early retirement.
  4. Get your significant other on board.  This may take years for them to really understand the concept completely.  I think my wife assumed this blog and my goal to retire at 45 was just another one of my latest obsessions of the month.  Now I think it’s starting to sink in that I’m seriously planning to retire by my 45th birthday.
  5. Expand your interests.  As part of your plan to retire early you need a lot of other interests to keep you busy for your very long and happy life without work.  So get started on trying new things and finding out what you enjoy.  This also helps the issue of balancing saving for the future and enjoying today.

Well that’s my game plan to get you started over your obsession.  After a while the obsession drops away and early retirement is merely and long term goal and one of your many interests.  So what is your advice on dealing with the obsession?

5 thoughts on “Coping With an Early Retirement Obsession”

  1. “Get your significant other on board. ”

    Heh, definitely harder than it sounds… I plan on retiring when I’m 50 (I am currently 36), so at that point, my wife will have to go back to work (she’s a SAHM right now) so we can have medical insurance.

    For some reason, she still seems a little resistant to this plan…

  2. Hi,

    I’ll get the obligatory sucking up out of the way. I read a lot of PF blogs and like yours the best. There aren’t to many Canadian ones (401k what now ?) and yours is the best of the bunch. Plus, you’re seeing the bigger picture in terms of lifestyle and what the money means.

    Which is why this post took me from lurker to commenter. Man, I had this same conversation less than 24 hours before you wrote this. Are we really in the Matrix afterall ? ha ha

    I come from a small farm in Ontario (when there were small farms in Ontario). I’m now 34, live outside of god awful Toronto and have my own small business at the airport. I’m saving like a bugger for retirement and think I can make it happen at 40 (Knock on wood). My wife is onboard the idea and we don’t (and won’t) have kids.

    BUT, BUT, BUT, I work about 60 hours a week. Have one week a year off and am saying to myself, 5 more years of this ? It’s nice to have the secret plan that keeps you warm (and awake) at night but is it worth it ? Balance is hard.

    Anyway, good post and if you ever doubted your comments mattered to anyone, Boom, you got a believer here.

    Cheers.

  3. Koogie,

    Well I’m glad you decided to stop lurking. It’s always better to have an conversation rather than just reading all the time.

    I would agree balance is VERY hard to do. I think a number of people under estimate how difficult it can be. So let me tell you a little story.

    I was dreaming of early retirement and doing all this planning and stuff when I realized the reason I was doing all this was I was unhappy at my job. So when I heard about some work back in my old hometown of Regina I applied. I got the job easily enough but here was the big issue it paid over $20,000 less than I was currently making. Deciding to move was based on several issues and all of them had nothing to do with money. It was a weird feeling to give up the extra pay, but in the end I’m much happier for it.

    It’s nice to have a plan for the future, but you also really need to be happy today. Retirement should not be an escape from your current life but rather the obvious evolution of your life.

    I would find it hard working 60 hours a week, but in the end do what is right for you.

    Tim

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